Blackout Protection: Invinity Flow Battery Delivered to Soboba Fire Station

Invinity’s technology will help Native American fire station mitigate the impact of climate change-linked blackouts

Wednesday 22 June 2022

Invinity has taken a step towards proving that vanadium flow batteries can not only serve the electric grid itself, but also mitigate the challenges experienced by electricity users who rely on parts of the electric grid that are under increasing strain.

The 0.5 MWh battery, consisting of 3 VS3 units built by Invinity at its Vancouver facility, has been successfully delivered to the fire station near San Jacinto, California, owned by the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians. The battery is currently being installed and commissioned; once operational, it will help manage the solar power generated at the site whilst also providing backup power during outages.

This pioneering $1.7m project developed by GRID Alternatives (GRID), the nation’s largest non-profit solar installer, will see Invinity’s flow batteries again working alongside solar generation to increase energy resiliency for the Soboba Fire Department and make the best use of the Department’s existing solar generation resource on a daily basis.

As a model for how to improve energy security on a clean, low-cost and decentralised basis across the state, GRID is combining the 0.5 MWh Invinity flow battery with 50 kW of on-site solar generation to provide a minimum of ten hours continuous backup power to the site. Excess power generated during daylight hours can be utilised “on-demand” when required, day or night.

Invinity’s vanadium flow batteries are ideal for this combined service. Their lack of degradation with cycle count means they can regulate solar on a daily basis for the life of the photovoltaic array, while their long duration capability ensures there is energy in reserve to deliver resiliency if the grid goes out.

The project is one of four energy storage projects utilising Invinity flow batteries to be selected by the California Energy Commission (CEC) as part of a $20m initiative, funded through the CEC’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, to demonstrate the essential role that reliable long-duration storage can play in delivering clean power to critical infrastructure.

According to California state officials, the number of blackouts across California is expected to increase over the next five summers due to extreme heat that will increase the likelihood of power supply shortages. Weather-related power outages have been increasing year-on-year across the US over the last 20 years as extreme weather costs the US economy tens of billions of dollars each year. In California specifically, the first rolling blackouts for nearly 20 years began in September 2020 following a state-wide heatwave that strained the electrical system, saw power cut off to more than 410,000 homes and caused a number of wildfires.

The fire station is a vital part of the Soboba community. Tribal residents live in a district identified by the California Public Utilities Commission as a “Tier 3 – Extreme” threat area and have experienced multiple outages linked to wildfires over the last two years. During wildfires, the Soboba fire station serves as the incident command centre and emergency shelter as well as the point of distribution for food, equipment and supplies, making uninterrupted power vital for community resiliency.

Invinity is proud to be part of this innovative project and is looking forward to working with its current and future partners to deliver increased energy independence and resilience to critical infrastructure across California and beyond.

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